FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Six of Alaska’s collecting institutions, in five communities from Kodiak to Nome, have been awarded $33,350 in grants. The awards will support the acquisition of artwork through a fund created by Rasmuson Foundation and administered by Museums Alaska.
The Art Acquisition Fund invites museums and culture centers to submit proposals to purchase recent works by contemporary Alaskan artists. Now in its seventeenth year, this initiative has helped institutions across Alaska enhance their collections, interpret contemporary themes, and support hundreds of visual artists. This summer, six museums received a total of $33,350 to purchase 7 pieces of artwork from 7 Alaskan artists—including acrylic, mixed media, colored pencil, and silver pieces.
This round, a pair of dancing dolls and one commissioned mask were funded. The University of Alaska Museum of the North will purchase a pair of art dolls made by Mary Ellen Frank depicting a story of a man and woman participating in Eskimo Dancing (yuraq, lit. "to dance"), and Sealaska Heritage Institute will work with Tsimshian carver and art instructor John Hudson, III who will create a carved and painted wooden mask depicting the face of a shaman.
The fund will offer additional grants in 2019. For eligibility information, application deadlines, and submission directions, please visit the Museums Alaska website.
Museums Alaska is a statewide professional organization supporting Alaska’s collecting institutions and their staff members and volunteers. The non-profit organization supports the improvement of museum services and promotes public awareness of the value of the state’s museums and culture centers. A nine-member volunteer board governs Museums Alaska with funding from memberships, grants, gifts, and sales.
Rasmuson Foundation has named 35 artists in 18 Alaska communities as Individual Artist Award recipients for 2019. Ten individuals will receive $18,000 Fellowships and 25 artists will receive Project Awards of $7,500. Recipients were selected from a pool of 317 applicants by a panel of Lower 48 artists and creative community leaders.
Earlier in the week, the Foundation announced its 2019 Distinguished Artist, Richard Nelson of Sitka. He is being honored with a $40,000 award for a lifetime of creative excellence.
Common themes addressed in the work of this year’s awardees include the impacts of climate change on Alaska and exploring traditional knowledge, cultural heritage and gender identity.
Fellowships are awarded to mid-career and mature artists ready for an intensive, yearlong project. Sara Tabbert of Fairbanks makes woodblock prints and panels revealing overlooked environments. She will develop new sculptural skills for her upcoming exhibit, “Lowland,” which will explore the strange and beautiful landscapes of Interior Alaska. The artist writes, “wild places I visit may be ecologically significant but their lack of drama leaves them unprotected and vulnerable. I believe that attention can translate to stewardship, and I want my work to inspire care for the lesser landscapes.”
Project Awards support artists at all career stages for specific, short-term works. John S. Hagen of Haines will photograph salmon season in the village of Ugashik on the Alaska Peninsula, where his ancestors lived until the 1918 flu epidemic. “I have searched for images of Unangan people living in the Bristol Bay region,” he writes. “My searches rarely turn up recent images or stories. It’s as if they no longer exist. But we do exist. Since I cannot find those images, I need to make them — not just for myself, but also for my ancestors and for future generations.”
The awards and fellowships provide critical financial support for working artists in all disciplines and genres, in styles ranging from traditional to experimental. Fellow Neva Mathias is best-known for her dolls made of sealskin, leather, grass and other natural materials. She will prepare hides, travel to Anchorage for supplies, and seek opportunities to teach her craft to younger artists. “The material products for my dolls are so limited out here in rural Alaska,” she writes. “Getting to Anchorage to shop for my artistic needs is so rare because it is so expensive to travel from Chevak. To be able to shop only for my art supplies would be once in a lifetime adventure for me!”
This year marks the first time for a recipient from Big Lake. Project Awardee Rebecca Menzia is a composer who explores femininity through complex melodies, painful concepts and healing textures.
Learn more and see a short film about the artists at our 2019 Individual Artist Award web feature.
Artist project profiles accompany this release and also are available on the web feature. Explore the work of Richard Nelson on the Distinguished Artist web feature. Photos, videos and audio files are available upon request.
Rasmuson Foundation began providing grants to support individual working artists in Alaska in 2004. The program has made a total of 516 awards to individual artists: 366 Project Awards, 134 Fellowships and 16 Distinguished Artist awards totaling more than $4.7 million.
Beyond financial support, the Foundation promotes artists through social media, stories, films and our website. It also sponsors intensive workshops to help artists work profitably.
“After 16 years and more than 500 awards to artists, this is every bit as exciting as it was when we started the program,” said Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO. “The list of Project Awards and Fellowships represents a dazzling preview of upcoming performances, shows, and new works by Alaska’s most talented established and emerging artists. We can’t wait to see the results.”
About the Foundation
Rasmuson Foundation was created in May 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband, E.A. Rasmuson. Through grantmaking and initiatives, the Foundation is a catalyst to promote a better life for all Alaskans.
Museums Alaska is grateful for Rasmuson Foundation's continued support of our Art Acquisition Fund and Collections Management Fund.
The Unalaska Public Library is seeking statements of interest from artists and craftspeople who would like to propose art projects and functional pieces that will integrate into the library expansion and improvements. Learn more by viewing the flyer below.
Unalaska Public Library Call for Artists Flyer (PDF)
PROPOSAL DEADLINE: June 3, 2019, 5 PM.
The Valdez Museum & Historical Archive is once again accepting exhibit proposals for its annual review. The VMHA exhibit calendar is filled through 2019; proposals are being accepted for 1st quarter 2020 and the 2021-2022 exhibit cycle. Exhibit proposals will be reviewed annually each June by a selection panel of museum staff, with a goal to finalize the museum’s exhibition schedule to planning five years in advance of exhibit production. Proposed temporary exhibitions may be related to the visual arts, regional history, environmental science, or any other topic that supports the museum’s mission to preserve, present, and interpret the heritage and culture of Valdez, the Copper River Basin, and Prince William Sound, Alaska.
The review process has been implemented as a means of formalizing and standardizing the selection process for temporary exhibitions. Goldstein reports, “By planning well in advance with the exhibitors’ input, the museum will be able to budget its funding and work plan more efficiently. The form will also help to reduce any bias in the selection process by evaluating proposed exhibits in the context of the museum’s mission. This form will also provide the museum with content and cost estimates for grant-writing purposes, which is important for grants that have a longer lead time for applying.” Goldstein also expresses, “I hope that this form will also encourage artists to think about how to present their own work, and how to develop a body of work that coincides well with the museum’s programming.”
The museum’s temporary exhibits gallery is a roughly 300 square-foot space accommodating a maximum of sixty linear feet of wall space, with permanent exhibitions in the adjacent history galleries portion of the main museum. Interested exhibitors are requested to complete the Exhibit Proposal Form at https://www.valdezmuseum.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/VMHA-Exhibit-Proposal-Form.pdf; questions may be submitted to Andrew Goldstein, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, at email@example.com, phone number (907) 835-8905. Proposals will be reviewed mid-June; applicants will be notified by July 1, 2019.
Ten of Alaska’s collecting institutions, in eight communities from Unalaska to Fairbanks, have been awarded $76,154 in grants. The awards will support collections care projects through funds created by Rasmuson Foundation and administered by Museums Alaska.
Established in 2013, the Collections Management Fund supports projects that advance the preservation of museum collections with awards of up to $15,000. The fund provides critical support for the care of objects documenting Alaska’s cultural and natural heritage. In April, Museums Alaska selected ten projects to fund. The funded projects include management of ethnographic collections and plant records, upgrading textile and basket storage, digitizing oral history tapes and movies, and two collections internships.
The fund will offer additional grants in 2019. For eligibility information, application deadlines, and submission directions, please visit the Museums Alaska Collections Management Fund webpage.
Museums Alaska is a statewide professional organization supporting Alaska’s collecting institutions and their staff members and volunteers. The non-profit organization supports museums and cultural centers in Alaska and enhances public understanding of their value. A nine-member volunteer board governs Museums Alaska with funding from memberships, grants, gifts, and sales.
COLLECTIONS MANAGEMENT FUND AWARDS SPRING 2019
Alaska Aviation Museum—$14,812.16 for Accessioning & Records Management Project
Alaska Botanical Garden—$6,510.00 for Photography and Signage Project
Alutiiq Museum & Archaeological Repository—$10,144.68 for Clark Bequest Project
Cordova Historical Society and Museum—$5,157.00 for CHS Archive/Research Room Equipment
Pratt Museum—$6,070.44 for Renovation wrap-up: A return to Collections
Kodiak Historical Society—$8,239.47 for Collection Work and Viewing Space
Museum of the Aleutians—$1,351 for Collections storage
Pioneer Air Museum—$8,211.25 for Collections Cataloging Project
Sheldon Museum and Cultural Center—$10,658 for Save Our Oral History Project
Valdez Museum & Historical Archive—$5,000 for Collections Management Internship
As the 2019 conference call for proposals deadline nears, take a moment to read the following article written by Elizabeth Walsh, recipient of a scholarship funded by the Donna Matthews Professional Development Fund to attend Museums Alaska's annual conference, held in Nome in 2018.
I was hired as the Director of the Clausen Memorial Museum in Petersburg, Alaska in June 2018. As a small non-profit, our Museum functions within an intricate network of relationships. Such as the relationships between my staff, our Board of Trustees, and myself, as well as relationships with our community and other local institutions and organizations. These bonds strengthen our Museum and enrich our community. That the Museums Alaska’s theme for the 2018 Conference was Relationships perfectly suited my ongoing musings on how to get our community to actively engage with our Museum. The preconference workshop I attended in Nome opened my eyes to new roles our Museum can play within our community that will develop and strengthen personal connections to our Museum and its collection.
I attended the half-day conference workshop hosted by Amanda Dale from the Alaska Humanities Forum. The workshop explored how to use our Museum’s collection as a springboard for conversation. By engaging in conversation we can foster stronger connections between individuals as well as between our community and our Museum’s collection. Using an item from a museum’s collection is an excellent tool for creating distance, which is sometimes necessary when discussing a contentious topic. Using a museum’s collection can also help equalize participants and create a shared experience that participants can then build on during the conversation.
Museums are not just repositories of historic and old things. Museums hold living stories that still speak to relevant issues that are impacting our community today. This conference workshop focused on how to use our Museum’s collection to emphasize this aspect of museums. An important question I often ask myself is what can I do to help our community fall in love with their Museum? This in turn leads me to the question, what role does our Museums play in our community, and more importantly what new roles can our Museum take on that it hasn’t in the past? By nurturing personal relationships with our Museum’s collection, through conversation, I believe that our Museum can become a valuable resource for strengthening our community and exploring new relationships. My experience at the Conference in Nome has been instrumental to my growth as a Director of a small museum. I see a bright future for our Museum, one alive with stories both past and present.
Six of Alaska’s collecting institutions, in six communities from Unalaska to Fairbanks, have been awarded $72,600 in grants. The awards will support the acquisition of artwork through funds created by Rasmuson Foundation and administered by Museums Alaska.
The Art Acquisition Fund invites museums and cultural centers to submit proposals to purchase recent works by contemporary Alaskan artists. Now in its seventeenth year, this initiative has helped institutions across Alaska enhance their collections, interpret contemporary themes, and support hundreds of visual artists. In March, Alaska museums received funding to purchase 12 pieces of artwork from 9 Alaskan artists—including paintings, a helmet, a woven robe, mixed media, colored pencil drawings, and a photographic print.
Of note, Ketchikan Museums will purchase a Chilkat robe woven by Dorica Jackson, receiving the full amount of funding allotted per year per organization from this fund. Two works in colored pencil to be purchased include a drawing of a family of desmos, an extinct Alaska marine mammal, by Ray Troll to be purchased by the Museum of the Aleutians, and a set of 18 drawings of Alaska wildflowers by Karen Stomberg to be purchased by the University of Alaska Museum of the North.
The fund will offer two additional grant opportunities in 2019. For eligibility information, application deadlines, and submission directions, please visit the Museums Alaska website.
ART ACQUISITION FUND AWARDS MARCH 2019
Alaska State Museum
Linda Infante Lyons Grounded $6,800
Daniel Papke Clio $4,800
Lena Snow Amason-Berns Kasa'inaq--Seal Helmet $4,900
Alutiiq Museum & Archaeological Repository
Linda Infante Lyons Spirit of the Merganser $3,500
Linda Infante Lyons Sunset at Pyramid Mountain $6,500
Bruce W. Nelson Back Side of Ugak Island $350
Clausen Memorial Museum
Carey Case Southeast $400
Ashley Lohr Top View $150
Dorica Jackson Diving Whale Chilkat Robe $35,000
Museum of the Aleutians
Ray Troll Alaska Desmo Family $1,750
Ray Troll diptych, Unalaska Desmo Head I and Unalaska Desmo Head II $4,250
University of Alaska Museum of the North
Karen Stomberg Collected Treasures: Six Alaska Wildflowers$9,000
The Governor's proposed budget does not include funding for the Alaska State Council on the Arts (ASCA), which would eliminate the council from the Department of Education and Early Development.
ASCA maintains the Alaska Contemporary Art Bank, provides grants to many museums in the state, and has been a strong advocacy partner on behalf of arts and humanities in Alaska.
As members of the statewide museum community, your voice matters on this issue.
You can reach your legislators by email, phone, social media, or mail.
Find out who your Senators and Representatives are with this interactive map, and then find their contact information below:
Alaska State Senate
Alaska House of Representatives
The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) maintains an Advocacy webpage that allows you to find your elected officials by entering your address. There you will find your federal and state elected officials, including address, phone number, and social media handles.
Consider sharing a Facebook post or Tweet and tagging your elected officials:
"I support the Alaska State Council on the Arts, which provides valuable resources to the state of Alaska and my community. Please support the continuation of ASCA @[insert social media handle]"
You can also send a 50 word message to your legislators, using the link below.
Write a 50 word message
The House Finance Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) Subcommittee met on March 18th and 20th to vote on the governor's budget amendments. The subcommittee did not approve the proposed elimination of ASCA. Next, the Finance Committee will review the recommendations from the subcommittees and construct a budget.
Take a moment to thank the members of the House Finance DEED Subcommittee.
Write to the House Finance Committee to support the recommendation of the House Finance DEED Subcommittee to fund ASCA.
Museums Alaska's Board of Directors has supporting ASCA as one of our top legislative priorities this year. Please be sure to subscribe to our digital mailing list to stay up to date on this and other advocacy calls to action as they occur.
Museums Alaska maintains resources on our website to help you navigate the Alaska legislative process here. We will continue to share more resources and information as it becomes available.
We also hold a monthly Advocacy Task Force teleconference meeting, that is open to anyone interested in advocating on behalf of Alaska's museums. Please join us!
The following article waswritten by Alexandra Painter, recipient of a scholarship funded by the Donna Matthews Professional Development Fund to attend Museums Alaska's annual conference, held in Nome in 2018.
In Marieke Van Damme’s conference Keynote “The Joy in our Work,” she addressed many issues about the daily work of museum professionals, and gave simple, yet practical advice on improving workplace culture. For me, the keynote was a refreshing reminder to take care of yourself. To produce your best work, it’s important to be refreshed. Van Damme noted that all museum staff members, at all levels, can help do this, and that it is a collective responsibility in improving workplace culture.
One of my hopes in attending this conference was to leave with some advice on facilitating productive professional relationships. This keynote was a good reminder that good communication, gratitude, and kindness can encourage and propagate relationships with other staff and board members, as well as the community you serve. It makes sense that the better our relationships are at work, the happier and more productive we will be as employees. Instead of spending time overcoming the problems associated with negative relationships, we can, instead, focus on opportunities for positive connection.
Some of Van Damme’s suggestions for improving workplace culture are:
All of these are straightforward suggestions, and can also be used in connecting with other institutions around the state. She noted that networking is about meeting other people, sharing knowledge, and making connections. It is an opportunity to expand support systems—the people you can rely on when you find yourself in need, and to reciprocate that support in turn.
Moving forward, I hope to improve on existing collaborations and build on new professional relationships. I was excited to hear about all the great work and projects happening at the museums around Alaska at the conference, and feel energized to be involved.
I extend my most sincere thanks to Museums Alaska, the Alaska Historical Society, and the people of Nome who worked so hard to put this interesting conference together. I look forward to seeing colleagues in Kodiak at the conference next fall.
The Alaska State Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued a directive to the Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums to look into divesting itself of the Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka, including the building and its collections, through sale.
"The Sheldon Jackson Museum means so much to me. Please help protect these resources @[insert social media handle]"
Senator Bert Stedman of Sitka has spoken out about this issue and is quoted in several news articles in support of the Sheldon Jackson Museum.
Take a moment to thank Senator Stedman.
Museums Alaska's Board of Directors has identified the potential sale of the Sheldon Jackson Museum as one of our top legislative priorities this year. Please be sure to subscribe to our digital mailing list to stay up to date on this and other advocacy calls to action as they occur.
Below is a copy of a letter sent on behalf of our Board of Directors to Governor Dunleavy's office.
Letter of support from Museums Alaska Board of Directors for SJM
Please feel free to use the below template to write your own letter. The best letters address your personal connection to the issue, so please feel free to deviate from this template.
Template letter of support for SJM
AAM has also created an online version of this template letter, making it easier than ever to contact your legislators about this issue.
Museums Alaska maintains resources on our website to help you navigate the Alaska legislative process here. We will continue to share more resources and information as it becomes available.
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